Has anyone ever heard of frostbite?

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A high of 10 degrees will feel, well, downright balmy when bitter cold descends upon the upper Midwest in the coming days. So, in the spirit of feeling things (like our body parts during a polar plunge), let’s review some basic cold weather First Aid tips that you can find in the free American Red Cross First Aid App.

Frostbite happens when a part of your body gets frozen. It usually happens to parts of your body that may be hard to cover up, like your ears and nose, cheeks and chin, and fingers and toes. Signs of frostbite include first pain, and then numbness or loss of feeling, and loss of skin color. If you feel pain or numbness anywhere on your skin while you’re out in the cold, go inside immediately. Once inside, gently warm fingers and toes, such as with warm water. When in doubt, call 9-1-1 to get medical help.

Hypothermia happens when the body is losing heat faster than it can make heat. It’s like the opposite of having a fever, but just as dangerous. Shivering is one of the first signs of hypothermia. Other signs include confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech. If you start shivering outside in the cold or feel drowsy, go inside immediately and warm up. Once inside, take off any wet clothes and put on dry ones. Keep the body as warm as possible with blankets and jackets. Drink warm beverages, and stay warm and dry. When in doubt, call 9-1-1 to get medical help.

Icon App

You can find more helpful and lifesaving information on the Red Cross First Aid mobile app. Download it now by texting “GETFIRST” to 90999. And, remember pets during severe cold. Text “GETPET” to 90999 to download the Red Cross free Pet First Aid mobile app. Or, click here to find all of the Red Cross apps.

By Lynette Nyman, American Red Cross

Sarah’s Top Five Swimming Safety Tips

Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross
Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

Sarah Carlton has always had a passion for health, fitness and swimming. She graduated from college with a degree in exercise science and health promotion, and now she’s in charge of the aquatics program for Community Education in Stillwater, Minnesota. Sarah has been the Aquatics Coordinator there for four years and she continues to be a supporter of the Red Cross swimming programs they use for instruction.

“A Red Cross program consists of our community education instructors teaching and guiding swim students using an approved curriculum,” says Sarah. By using the Red Cross program, she knows that her students and their families will get the best swimming education possible. “Through the Red Cross program, there are 6 levels of swimming lessons. It also offers preschool and parent with child classes. Students can start as young as six months and most end lessons around the age of eleven or twelve.”

Luckily, while working with students, Sarah hasn’t run into any scary incidents. Sarah says, “The benefit of doing swim lessons is teaching the kids how to swim and prevent drowning. It also teaches them safety skills, not just in the pool, but while at the beach or boating.”

Junior lifeguarding training, Florida, 2015. Photo credit: Connie Harvey/American Red Cross
Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

When Sarah became the Aquatics Coordinator for Stillwater Community Education, she obtained her Red Cross Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor certifications. Having these certifications helped her understand the job responsibilities better, gave her a great networking forum and improved rapport and credibility among her staff team. When needed, she can take a lifeguard shift or fill in as a swim instructor, which enables the program to run within ratio and with minimal disruption to customer service.

Her best advice for people who don’t know how to swim: learn to swim using a Red Cross program. “It’s used around the country and teaches the right skills to be safe in or near water. If you’re an adult, take private lessons. It’s never too late to learn.” The biggest reward at the end of the day for Sarah is seeing the student faces light up when they pass a level or when they know they’ve become better swimmers.

hoto by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross
Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

Sarah’s Top Five Swimming Pool Safety Tips:
1. Always swim with a buddy
2. Learn to float and use survival strokes
3. No horseplay on the deck or in the pool
4. No crazy stunts off the diving board
5. Learn how to stay afloat in the deep end of the water

If you plan on being in or near water this summer, find a community education program near you for swimming lessons. For more water safety tips, click here. To download the Red Cross mobile Swim App click here.

Story by Kaylee Beevers/American Red Cross Intern

Top ten reasons to learn how to save a heart

By Cassie Sage, an American Red Cross Intern in Minnesota

Valentine1_TWIt’s February, the month of love. A month that is centered on valentines and as we are out and about we see hearts and decorations everywhere we go. We are focused on loving the most important people in our lives and we go out and buy them chocolate and other Valentine’s Day inspired gifts.

Although Valentine’s Day is in February, it is also National Heart Month, which is quite fitting. It is a month that focuses on educating people on how to react and respond if a person suffers from a cardiac arrest. Every year more than 300,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest but when CPR is performed or an automated external defibrillator can help save the lives of victims.

The American Red Cross offers in person or in class training courses to the public and teaches people how to respond to sudden cardiac arrest, along with first and CPR. So in the spirit of love and hearts here are the Top Ten Reasons to take a CPR class:

  1. You are prepared in an emergency situation.
  2. If an emergency occurs and you perform CPR a person is three times more likely to survive.
  3. You are able to help save a loved one.
  4. You can help save someone else’s loved one.
  5. You become knowledgeable about something that is very important.
  6. CPR is a skill that cannot be learned online, the Red Cross offers in depth classes that will teach an invaluable skill.
  7. Out of 200,000 cardiac arrest deaths a year almost 50,000 are preventable. CPR will lessen this number.
  8. You can be confident that you will be prepared to help if an accident occurs.
  9. You will learn to use life-saving technology, such as an AED, which are available in almost all public places.
  10. This is a skill that can be valuable for a lifetime and you will never know when it will be useful, but when it is everyone will be glad you know CPR.

There are many other reasons why everyone should take a CPR class no matter what month it is. You may have your own personal reasons or stories as to why knowing CPR is important but lets all take the time to take care of everyone’s hearts.

Calling all babysitters!

By Erin Ferris, American Red Cross

During a Babysitter's Training course in Minneapolis, Minn., youth learn that CPR is performed differently on infants than on children and adults. Techniques are performed here that require hands-on skills focusing on back blows, chest thrusts and proper ways to safely hold an infant. Photo credit: Krista Weiler/American Red Cross
During a Babysitter’s Training course youth learn that CPR is performed differently on infants than on children and adults. Techniques are performed here that require hands-on skills focusing on back blows, chest thrusts and proper ways to safely hold an infant. Photo credit: Krista Weiler/American Red Cross, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 2015.

My first American Red Cross experience came at 11 years old when I enrolled in a Red Cross Babysitter’s Training course. Eager to earn a little extra spending money, I had plans to start caring for children in my neighborhood and knew I needed to prepare myself for whatever my charges might literally and figuratively throw at me.

The decision to become a babysitter ended up a great one, as it led to years of gainful summer and weekend employment and began me on my journey to a life-long partnership with the Red Cross.

25 years later, the Red Cross continues to offer babysitting courses to students ages 11 and older. The courses, available mainly online, provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and responsibly care for infants and children and to manage their own babysitting businesses.

The Babysitting Basics online course takes approximately 4 hours to complete and includes videos, interactive games, and downloadable resources covering basic caregiving skills (holding, carrying, diapering, feeding, bathing, etc.), what to do in emergency situations, how to play with children, how to interact with parents, and how to build a babysitting business. The course is designed for children between the ages of 11-15.

For those 16 and up, the Red Cross offers the online-only Advanced Child Care Training. This training features the latest in learning techniques – simulation learning – for an engaging format that students of this generation prefer.

Learning materials are provided by the American Red Cross to aid in the education of all attendees (Handbook, Reference Guide, Student Kit). Photo credit Krista Weiler/American Red Cross, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 2015.
Learning materials are provided by the American Red Cross to aid in the education of all attendees (Handbook, Reference Guide, Student Kit). Photo credit Krista Weiler/American Red Cross, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 2015.

My almost 9-year-old son, while still a little young for babysitting, loves to look out for his younger sister, cousins, and friends. I plan to enroll him in an online Red Cross babysitting course in a couple of years, knowing that along with learning how to care for younger children, he’ll learn how to deal with emergencies, the basics of building a business, and how to work with adults in a professional manner. Sounds like a pretty good introduction to real life responsibility!

Whether your future babysitter wants the Babysitting Basics course or the Advanced Child Care Training course for older, it is guaranteed to be a fun and educational course.

This post was originally published on the national American Red Cross blog. To find Red Cross babysitting and childcare classes near you, click here.

Do you really know how to swim?

water-safety-infographic-2015_lowresMany people believe they know how to swim. But in reality, the really don’t, especially children and teens. Last year the American Red Cross released survey results revealing something quite shocking: more than 60 percent of youth are unable to perform all five basic water competency skills.  To reduce this life-threatening statistic, the Red Cross has launched a national campaign to reduce drownings in half by 50 percent during a three to five year period. In Minnesota, that would mean cutting the number of non-boating accident drownings from an average of 40 per year to 20.

Additional key survey findings include:

  • Nearly a fifth (18 percent) of adults who are not able to perform all five water safety skills expect to supervise a child near water this summer.
  • Fear is listed as the top reason for not learning how to swim both as a child and as an adult.
  • Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) report that they have had an experience where they were afraid they might drown.
  • Near-drowning experiences are more common among young adults (ages 18-24). And younger Americans are also more likely than those in any other age group to report that they know someone who nearly drowned (36 percent).

To learn more and to test your swim skills before you hit the water, click here.
To find classes for your family, contact your local swim facility or click here.

Happy NAT Graduates

Congratulations! to our most recent American Red Cross Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) graduates in Minnesota. Family and friends turned out to celebrate this achievement on December 30, 2014. Also, potential employers were on-hand to share information about their work places and to meet the graduates who are future caregivers.

DSC_4412NAT graduates display their new American Red Cross certificates.

DSC_4371NAT graduate Lizbeth Perez visits with a healthcare provider during the job fair.

DSC_4374Hayet Chalbe (l) celebrated with her daughter Zohra on graduation day.

DSC_4379NAT student Erica Parker was one of 7 graduates from Red Cross NAT on December 30.

DSC_4388NAT instructor Yelena McCormick reads Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess.

DSC_4364NAT graduate Trevor Brown gets employer information from a healthcare provider.

DSC_4403NAT coordinator Kimberly Fullmer offers congratulations to student Jordin Melchert.

The American Red Cross is the premier provider of Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) and has prepared individuals for work in the nursing field for over 100 years. The program is designed with input from educators, caregivers, and long-term industry representatives from across the United States. To learn more, click here.

All photos, credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Red Cross Trains Roosevelt High’s First, First Responder Teens

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Roosevelt High School student Kalia Vang, 17, is one of 11 youth who successfully complete the school’s first American Red Cross Emergency Medical Response (EMR) course. She received her course certificate from the Red Cross on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross
Roosevelt High School student Kalia Vang, 17, is one of 11 youth who completed the school’s first American Red Cross Emergency Medical Response (EMR) course. She received her course certificate from the Red Cross on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Preparing people to respond to emergencies is one thing the American Red Cross does –and does well. Now, eleven Roosevelt High School teens are ready to help save lives after successfully completing Red Cross Emergency Medical Response (EMR) training.

The students received their course certificates during a ceremony at the high school on October 28. Minneapolis VIPs on-hand included Mayor Betsy Hodges, Fire Chief John Fruetel and Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson.

All partner representatives are very thankful for the Red Cross and its work to help the Minneapolis fire department engage with local youth, prepare teens for fire fighting and healthcare careers after graduation, and add diversity to the fire department so that it better represents the community it serves. “Without the Red Cross we would not have gone as far as we have,” says Fire Chief John Fruetel.

Also present to celebrate with the students and city officials was Red Cross instructor Steven Brown who taught the EMR course to the students. “When Steve was hired on as the instructor, I was confident that the students would be able to build a solid foundation of knowledge with Steve as their instructor,” says Kari Anderson Slade, Health Careers Program Coordinator at Roosevelt High School.

Minneapolis, Minn., Mayor Betsy Hodges thanks American Red Cross Emergency Medical Response (EMR) Instructor Steven Brown for successful EMR training of the first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) youth group at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross
Minneapolis, Minn., Mayor Betsy Hodges thanks American Red Cross Emergency Medical Response (EMR) Instructor Steven Brown for successful EMR training of the first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) youth group at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

As the instructor for this part of their first responder training, Brown had the honor of giving the teens their course certificates. “Steve has been extremely thoughtful about his role as a teacher of EMR this fall, but has also gone beyond this to recognize the importance of EMR, in the scope of the EMT program students are taking,” says Anderson Slade.

From here, the teens move on to the second half their training with Hennepin Technical College, which will prepare them to become certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).

That is, of course, if they pass the test. If their current dedication and enthusiasm serves as an indicator of success, then they’ll likely get all As.

Click here to learn more about American Red Cross healthcare and public safety training and certification programs.